Rockburst Generation in Discontinuous Rock Masses

Ben Guo He, Ravit Zelig, Yossef H. Hatzor, Xia Ting Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


We study rockburst generation in discontinuous rock masses using theoretical and numerical approaches. We begin by developing an analytical solution for the energy change due to tunneling in a continuous rock mass using linear elasticity. We show that the affected zone where most of the increase in elastic strain energy takes place is restricted to an annulus that extends to a distance of three diameters from the tunnel center, regardless of initial tunnel diameter, magnitude of in situ stress, and in situ stress ratio. By considering local elastic strain concentrations, we further delineate the Rockbursting Prone Zone found to be concentrated in an annulus that extends to one diameter from the tunnel center, regardless of original stress ratio, magnitude, and the stiffness of the rock mass. We proceed by arguing that in initially discontinuous rock masses shear stress amplification due to tunneling will inevitably trigger block displacements along preexisting discontinuities much before shear failure of intact rock elements will ensue, because of the lower shear strength of discontinuities with respect to intact rock elements, provided of course that the blocks are removable. We employ the numerical discrete element DDA method to obtain, quantitatively, the kinetic energy, the elastic strain energy, and the dissipated energy in the affected zone in a discontinuous rock due to tunneling. We show that the kinetic energy of ejected blocks due to strain relaxation increases with increasing initial stress and with decreasing frictional resistance of preexisting discontinuities. Finally, we demonstrate how controlled strain energy release by means of top heading and bench excavation methodology can assist in mitigating rockburst hazards due to stain relaxation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4103-4124
Number of pages22
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • DDA
  • Deep underground excavations
  • Dynamic deformation
  • Energy considerations
  • Rockburst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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